Ask Amy

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 12:00am

DEAR AMY: I'm married to an intelligent, educated professional man.

We've been married more than 20 years, and things are basically solid and good. My problem is that he eats like a pig at the trough, and it repulses me. He chews and talks with his mouth full, smacks his food loudly and shovels the food in.

I can hardly stand to eat with him.

His eating is much more controlled around friends or family, but he's always really loud.

I don't demean him, but I do occasionally ask him to chew with his mouth closed.

I suspect he has sinus issues, and I've suggested he go to the doctor about it, but he hasn't.

His table manners are so repulsive to me that it carries over into other aspects of our life.

I love him and he's a good man.

Do I just need to accept this, or is there anything I can do? Eating with him has become a disgusting event that I dread.

— Repulsed

DEAR REPULSED: Readers who know my personal story know that after many years of singlehood, I married about 18 months ago.

And so my answer, while genuine, may seem naive.

But isn't the beauty of being married for 20 years that you and your husband become more — and not less — intimate? That you are able to tell each other about the things you each do that make your life together a momentary hell, but which are correctable with a little bit of effort?

I'm not suggesting you say to your husband, "I find you repulsive. Your very presence at the dinner table fills me with rage. Even your spoon disgusts me."

No, you'll say, "Honey — I love you. You are a good man. But I'm having such a hard time with you during meals. You have got to help me out here and eat quietly."

In exchange, you could offer your husband the opportunity to weigh in on a correctable habit you have, which he finds annoying. Confine your session to habits — not waistlines or mothers-in-law — and you should be able to work things out.

DEAR AMY: I'm a tall, kind, attractive man, but I'm shy around women.

So tell me. If I'm at the supermarket and an attractive woman comes up next to me and silently looks at the vegetables, does she want me to introduce myself?

— Shy in Boston

DEAR SHY: Fellow shoppers could actually be shopping for food, but your instinct is correct; supermarkets can be great places to meet people. At a store you will have many and repeated chances to try out and refine your style, so practice your technique to see what works best for you.

Unfortunately, the temptations of the produce section can lead a nervous (or nervy) person to be inappropriate. Stay away from the melons, tangelos and cucumbers.

Introducing yourself can seem abrupt — but opening with a question can be a great way to start a conversation with someone.

You say something like, "What do you think — do these peppers look fresh to you? I can never tell." A woman interested in meeting you will respond in a way that leaves room for a follow-up from you.

DEAR AMY: I am bewildered by the churchgoer who was offended by a mother nursing her child in the pew behind him or her. First of all, how did this person know the woman was nursing — if it was happening a pew behind?

I totally disagree with you about asking the mother to leave the room. That would be rude, and if someone said that to me I'd suggest he move because he's the one with a problem.

The only time it's appropriate to ask a parent to leave a meeting or service is if the baby is disrupting others. In my experience, nursing almost always quiets the baby.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeding a baby in public, regardless what you're feeding her. I think your advice was totally wrong.

— Nursing Mom

DEAR MOM: The letter writer reported that the mother (not the baby) was making noise in the pew behind, by announcing to the baby that it was time for some num-num.

My experience with nursing was that it was a little easier in a quieter environment — that's why I suggested the "quiet room" for this purpose. At a crowded Christmas service, this new mother might not have realized she had an alternative to nursing in the pew.

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Filed under: Lifestyles

2 Comments on this post:

By: kennyj on 2/17/10 at 12:32

re the nursing mother. Reminds me of an old (caI think name of the strip was "Marvin") that hit the nail on the head. The mother sits next to a man on an airplane. When it was time to nurse, she asked the man if he would mind. The man said yes it would. So, she leaves for another area of the plane, as she leaves the man is mumbling about rude behavior as he unfolds a playboy centerfold!! Talk about stupid, and yes I am a male.

Nursing is perfectly natural, if the letter writer was objecting to the mother talking to the baby, then the conversation should have been the issue, not nursing. But then, little old lady churchgoers (I am a senior citizen) usually have a broom handle up their spine.

By: sidneyames on 2/17/10 at 6:23

Well, senior citizen, so am I - a senior. And I believe that a mother could opt for some privacy and quiet time for feeding. After all, the most natural thing in the world is pooping. Should she change the poopy diaper right there on the pew? No, she opts for privacy. Everyone is not on board with your let it all flop out and feed philosophy. Some modesty is actually quite attractive. Some go to church just to worship and be fed the word of God; not to watch or be subjected to slurping babies and bare breasts. AND oh, I forgot the burp part! Get some privacy for the baby.